Nina And The Blues
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Posted in Honey on 04.20.05

From 7-9 this evening I’ll be playing Nina Simone on my radio program – it streams live at wuag.net. The last two years have been a lot of fun, lots of good phone calls and of course listening to Nina Simone for two hours is one of the best things ever.

Today we are looking at a couple of Nina Simone songs as we look at her blues work. Nina’s blues are particularly interesting, as they don’t really sound like blues recordings before or since. Her musical background is almost entirely in classical, so it’s a good chance that she did not have as strong of reference point to blues as she would have in jazz. This makes her blues work much more exciting in some regards, listening to House Of The Rising Sun and Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out sound so fresh and original, and still have this wonderful blues feel- because she had experienced the blues, rather than only having experienced blues music. The Bessie Smith track is a good reference point to what female blues singers sounded like and how Nina is outside and also fits within that tradition, it is subtle difference on “Nobody..” but I think it will become clear after a few listens.

Nina Simone – Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out
Nina Simone – House Of The Rising Sun

Bessie Smith – Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out

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But I Never Will Hear Enough
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Posted in Honey on 04.19.05

My first draw to the work of Nina Simone (beyond Sinnerman, I guess) was that she sang lots of Billie Holiday songs, and not just the song book Holiday, the few songs that Holiday is credited with writing. My favorite Nina Simone version of a Billie Holiday penned song is “Tell Me Some More and More And Then Some” from her 1965 Pastel Blues. Nina translate into a soft sultry blues number, something that Holiday hints at, but Holiday poses her self as more tragic and a woman that has lost far more than she’s gained.

Don’t Explain is one of my favorite jazz songs of all time, Billie Holiday’s voice on this late live recording isn’t as broken as it would be on her last two LPs, but the effects of her life are clearly heard. “You Are My Joy And Pain” are some of the finest written. Nina Simone’s version is along the same lines, much more heartbroken than angry, which is how I interpret Holiday’s version.

Nina Simone – Tell Me Some More and More And Then Some
Billie Holiday – Tell Me Some More and More And Then Some

Nina Simone – Don’t Explain
Billie Holiday – Don’t Explain

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Tribute To Nina Simone
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Posted in Honey on 04.18.05

This Thursday marks the second year anniversary of the passing of Nina Simone. I pay tribute to her each year through my radio program and this year through both my radio program and blog, I do this for several reasons, first and most important is the impact of her wonderful body of work on my life both musically and inteclectually but also emotionally. Feel free to send in comments and songs and I’ll work them in with my postings. Also through the week I’ll be posting some of Nina Simone’s influences (mainly Billie Holiday) but also some other female blues singers to give a greater context to the work. I’m really bad speaking about music at times, I prefer to let the music speak for itself normally – and this will be the case with today’s pick “Don’t Smoke In Bed”

Recorded in 1964 and released as her first album for Philips, Simone deftly mixes humor, the American songbook and protest into one, if not the best concert albums I’ve heard. Don’t Smoke In Bed is my favorite from a literally perfect album that includes “Mississippi Goddamn,” which is quite a feat. Don’t Smoke In Bed is classic Simone, very quite and tender, but still retains that power that just makes me fall in love with the song over and over again.

Nina Simone – Don’t Smoke In Bed

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My Cold Hands
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Posted in Honey on 04.15.05

Yesterday was a pretty big day for Honey, though I’m not sure why which is making me nervous, but everything seems to be in order so I guess I should just relax. Next week will be dedicated to the late Nina Simone, with a big blow out on Friday and some other tracks during the week.

Ex-Swans frontman Micheal Gira has been releasing some really great albums since the Swans broke up as Angels of Light. On their new album “Angels Of Light Sing ‘Other People’ he is backed by the quite wonderful Arkon/Family. Sadly, it sounds a lot like the Arkon/Family album, which isn’t a bad thing since that album is pretty good, but y’know I already got that album. Anyway, this track is pretty great – and sounds like a perfect bridge between the other Angels of Light albums and the Akron/Family sound and makes me want to stomp my feet and yell along.

Angels of Light – Michael’s White Hands

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That’s Why I Have The Blues
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Posted in Honey on 04.14.05

After two days of nasty weather, spring has returned to my neck of woods. Make sure you check out Locust St, who is concluding up 1950 with a pair of great Duke Ellington tracks but also a wonderful list of 1950 movies which shows that 1950 might have been the best year in film history. A great new blog Filthy Choice has a trio of fantastic live soul selections, including a really great Temptations number, but I gotta ask him, where are the Isley Brothers?

The great Tommy Dorsey started out in the blues recording under the name Georgia Tom. As Georgia Tom he recorded a number of secular blues tracks with lots of blues greats including Ma Rainey(He’s actually in the picture in the banner) and Bessie Smith and writing countless great blues standards. The reason I find this side so charming is because it’s wonderful song with Kansas City Kitty who recording very infrequently and this great Tommy Dorsey, who would later become the biggest gospel writer/singing in the world, it’s a wonderful slice of Dorsey’s recording life.

Kansas City Kitty and Georgia Tom – How Can You Have The Blues?

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Problem With The Problem With The Problem
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Posted in Honey on 04.13.05

Apparently, blogger ended the recover post thing yesterday. I lost my post today, it was filled with stories of my blogshare addiction and my radio show (TONIGHT 7-9pm at wuag.net).

These recordings are two of my favorite recordings of all time. Recorded in 1941 by Alan Lomax, these Son House recordings feature him in his prime backed by the best blues band I’ve ever heard. Recorded in Mississippi, at near a train station (this building was one of the few powered buildings in the area) these recordings really have a life of their own and sound totally different from any other blues recordings from the post-war area, they are loose and fast and have this spirit that is almost always lost in the studio. House has never sounded better, he is much more assured than on his first recordings in 1931, but his skills have not yet diminished as they would be the time he recorded again in 1965. Note: these tracks are pretty long and the file sizes for both of them are 9.4 megs.

Son House – Government Fleet Blues
Son House – Walking Blues

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Honey Has Gone Public?
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Posted in Honey on 04.12.05

Proving once again that I’m way behind on this blogger scene, apparently you can buy stock in my blog. Blogshares.com has set up a blog stock market that has some system of valuing stock based on incoming hits through some site. Anyway my stock is on the rise! As you can see by the charst, Honey is going up and up and up. Sadly I own zero shares of my own blog,making all these gains worth 0 fake dollars to me.

Today we are featuring another great “lost” blues player by the name of Jack Gowdlock. From my research it appears he recorded 4 sides for Victor in 1931, the first two were gospel sides that were not issued and the other two were Poor Jane Blues and Rollin’ Dough Blues. Blind Nesbitt (I’ve only heard of this singer, if anyone has recordings by him let me know) apparently sang on the two unissued sides which seem like they would be amazing. Gowdlock was well known in his area (Union County, NC) as one of the best guitar players around and you can hear his very precise form of Piedmont Blues guitar on this track though his country influenced vocals dominate the mix.

Jack Gowdlock – Rollin’ Dough Blues

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Macordium
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Posted in Honey on 04.11.05

Honey, Where You Been So Long is rapidly approaching its one year anniversary (5/22) and plans are underway to build a giant cake the shape of Ma Rainey and then eat it over the course of a week or until our teeth fall out. April 21st marks the second anniversary of Nina Simone’s passing, my radio program Gate City Blues normally does a tribute show that week in her memory. I was thinking about doing a Nina Simone week, next week, but it might just be a few days I haven’t decided.

Not much is known about Blind Jesse Harris other than he was an Alabama resident at the time of this recording in 1937 and he played a broken piano accordion that only had one bellow. Harris dubbed his instrument the “Macrodium” and performs this song unaccompanied which is unusual as most uses of accordion in blues music is accompanied by at least a guitar. Harris is a strong singer and the Macrodium provides a very haunting accompaniment to his deep deep voice.


Blind Jesse Harris – Been In The Jailhouse

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My Man Is A Mean Man
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Posted in Honey on 04.08.05

This feels like the end of my first week. The new server seemed to be a bit edgy yesterday, but the bumps I think have smoothed out. Hopefully there won’t be any more interruptions in service for awhile as I’m getting pretty tired of them.

I’ve been pretty captivated by the neu-soul movement especially in the last few years with Musiq, John Legend, Van Hunt, Macy Gray, and that Res album a few years back was pretty great. This soul album here, isn’t really neo-soul it’s a throwback album, and it’s shockingly good. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – Naturally is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year and one of the best soul albums I’ve heard in the last 5 years at least, I mean it even has a funky version of This Land, Is Your Land (with Guthrie’s alternative lyrics even) and it works ! These are my two favorite tracks from the album if you like ‘em please buy them direct from the website (and them I sent you!)

Buy Naturally From Daptone Records!

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – My Man Is A Mean Man (fixed)
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – Your Thing Is A Drag

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Touch Me Light, Mama
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Posted in Honey on 04.07.05

The Reds are on their way to sweeping the Mets which is a promising start to the new year, though I know from years past that this won’t last, but it’s fun to still have hope ! We switched over the server this morning, but everything is back up and running smoothly and should be faster !

This track is by George “Bullet” Williams and has been a radio show stable for a number of week, but I haven’t gotten around to posting here yet. Williams is a stunning harmonica player which a great big voice that just wants to shatter my speakers every time I listen to this track. Williams’ style of playing is referred to as “sung” style where he uses his harmonica as another voice on the side as compared to Sonny Terry’s style where he uses the harmonica(and his voice) to emulate a country violin sound. Really just amazing music here.


George “Bullet” Williams – Touch Me Light,Mama

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